Britain will reopen thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson says, setting out a timetable for businesses as part of moves to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
He told a news conference that from June 1, outdoor markets and car showrooms could be reopened as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines, and all other non-essential retail from June 15 if the government’s tests are met.
“Today, I want to give the retail sector notice of our intentions to reopen shops, so they too can get ready,” Johnson said. “There are careful but deliberate steps on the road to rebuilding our country.”
The government said shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, would be expected to be able to reopen from June 15, giving them three weeks to prepare.
It said that businesses would only be able to open from those dates once they had completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks.
“The high street sits at the heart of every community in the country,” business minister Alok Sharma said in a statement.
“Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”
The United Kingdom’s death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 36,914, up 121 from a day earlier, official figures showed on Monday.